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Ravens Safety Marcus Williams Puts Steelers on Notice

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Pittsburgh Steelers FS Minkah Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick during minicamp on June 11, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Baltimore Ravens have been an elite running team for the past several years, but with All-Pro running back Derrick Henry now on the team, the Ravens’ rushing attack has the potential to be downright scary.

During a recent appearance on the NFL Network’s The Insiders, Ravens safety Marcus Williams said it will be a handful for AFC North safeties to go up against the duo of Jackson and Henry.

“We’re not going to go into how I’m going to tackle them,” Williams said. “Because I don’t gotta tackle them. That’s all the other team now. These other safeties that’s gotta go up against them in the division, they’re going to have a tough time. Lamar looks good, he’s throwing the ball great. He’s smooth, he’s fast. I can’t wait to see both of them on the field at the same time.”

Henry, 30, is a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, and led the NFL in carries four times and rushing yards and touchdowns in 2019 and 2020. In 2020, he was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year while spearheading the Tennessee Titans’ rushing attack.

Tennessee’s second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Henry has spent his entire career with the Titans. Over eight seasons, he’s run for 9,502 yards at a 4.7 yards per carry average and scored 90 touchdowns.

His best season came back in 2020, when he scored 17 touchdowns and ran for 2,027 yards. His pace has slowed somewhat, rushing for 1,167 yards and 12 scores in 2023. His 4.2 yards per carry average last season tied for his career low.

Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith coached Henry in Tennessee, so I’m sure he’ll give the defense an earful in the week leading up to facing Baltimore.

The Ravens led the league in rushing last season, averaging 156.5 yards per game. Jackson, who won League MVP in 2023, rushed for 821 yards and five touchdowns, and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

Jackson and Henry will present a big challenge for the Steelers’ safeties and defense overall, but safety DeShon Elliott did have his way with Henry on one occasion in 2020. Elliott, who was with the Ravens at the time, laid out the All-Pro running back.

Elliott is expected to serve as the Steelers’ strong safety and play in the box. The Steelers want to not move Minkah Fitzpatrick around as much and have him focus on being a ball hawk. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin thinks Elliott brings a blue-collar, no-nonsense approach to the defense.

“One thing I like is that he knows what AFC North football is about, you know, starting in Baltimore. So, we figured he knew that. He’s also a real good pro. He’s tough. He’s a good striker, you know. He brings some toughness in that secondary, where he’s going to get down in there, he can punish some ball carriers. And so, I think that gives us a level of physicality that we really want and like, and he does some things in the slot as well. So, he brings us some flexibility in there, and that’s what we like,” Austin said at minicamp.